Five Minutes with Nash Harris

FORD vs Holden, it’s a time-honoured combination. It’s a perennial saga stretching for generations and remains to this day a contentious issue, do you fly the flag for the Blue Oval, or the Holden Rondel?

Built on this rivalry, Saloon Cars has served the motorsport community for more than two-decades, and thanks in part to a recent jump in entry numbers the Victorian Championship has been thrilling so far in season 2021.

Saloon Cars competitor and team owner, Nash Harris, was only too happy to be nominated by his category to chat to about his involvement in the class.

Harris with his fan-favourite Holden VN Commodore. “What’s it like having someone like Anthony Beare at Harris Racing?”

Nash Harris: “This is our third year racing with Speedway legend Anthony (Beare)…

“I don’t gain anything financially having Anthony in one of my cars, it is to get some exposure and publicity for the category and have a bit of fun along the way.

“He has six national and several state Speedway titles to his name, so it was a good fit to have him involved from a promotional point of view. There’s no financial gain, as I said only a fun, promotional gain.

“I also come from a Speedway background and I’m going to reference what I would call the glory days of Speedway in the 1990s. The racing was pretty simple, and it was easy to show up to the racetrack and just do your thing.

“It was fun and it was all about the camaraderie. Fast forward a bit and the scene started to change a little bit so I moved to Saloon Cars in 2015.”

Anthony Beare (Middle) showed his skills on slick surfaces dominating a wet Race 3 at Phillip Island earlier in 2021.

VSRS: “How do you find the Saloon Cars racing community?”

NH: “It’s great! I’m involved in the SCRA (Saloon Cars Racing Association) committee, and I also teamed up with ‘DJ’ (Daniel Johnson, Club President) and together our plan was to try and get as many cars out of sheds and onto the racetrack.

“It’s been good to be part of the series and help inject some new interest in it for the last 18-months or so. It’s great hearing the paddock talking about fabricating new cars because there are none available for sale.

“I’m actually making a fresh Holden VY Commodore myself, documenting it and posting its progress on my Facebook and Instagram pages. It’s having its roll cage installed at the moment.”

VSRS: “What about the VN?!”

NH: “I have the VN Commodore. It is an earlier model Commodore but I love driving it, it is my baby.

“They are quite big in Western Australia, the SCRA club president, Justin Chaffey, and I did an endurance race over there in 2019, followed by the Saloon Cars Nationals in Darwin. We had a lot of fun, I love driving the older Commodore partly because of how the rear behaves.

“All of our cars are built to the rulebook. But it’s all about how you interpret the rulebook and little things you can tweak along the way. You sometimes hear other competitors saying that their car hasn’t got enough pace, but I usually suggest ‘take a careful look at the rules’ and see if there is anything you can spot before someone else does.

“Some competitors think it’s about shooting out and driving around the problem, but I am more of a thinker. I come from an engineering background, and I look at it from a technical side of things as well as driving to try and unlock pace.

“If you carefully follow the rules, you can unlock a recipe for success. But there are also things outside of the square I have thrown at the car and the performance takes a step backwards. If you stop and think about how to go fast, you do more often than not.”

Harris Racing in the Winton paddock.

VSRS: “Any other keys to success in Saloon Cars?”

NH: “Seat time is a big part of going quick in Saloon Cars. The older cars tend to slide around a bit more because of the live rear axles over the more modern Independent Rear Suspension shod cars. I like a car that slides around in the rear, which is my VN. The AUs also have a live rear with a diff, controversially I like driving the AU despite being a staunch Holden man.

“I have driven a VT Commodore, and funnily enough, I was never fully comfortable in it. I didn’t like it in comparison to my VN.

“Live rears are what I know. Throughout my Speedway career I had raced cars with live rear axles, I love the approach where you put the boot into it and let it slide.

“The Bridgestone control tyre used in Saloon Cars, you really need to drive them on the limit. We have a young racer also in a VN Commodore this year and he’s usually asking me tips for unlocking pace in a VN. The secret with Saloon Cars is that they are low grip, low power, so you really have to lean on the tyre to use 110% of its capabilities.

“You’ve got to maximise everything the tyre offers you, to the point just before it completely lets go on you and tips you off the circuit. A lot of time can be made through the corners.”